Double win for Stafford-based psychology team at Autism Professionals Awards – Autism in Practice – April 2014

In the third of four features for the April 2014 issue of Autism in Practice, I shared the success and looked into the work that Midlands Psychology was commended for at The National Autistic Society’s Autism Professionals Awards 2014.

Midlands Psychology is a Stafford-based community interest company (CIC). Run by professionals who have a history of working with people with autism and parents of people with autism.

Midlands Psychology offers support to not only children and teenagers on the spectrum without the need for an initial referral from a medical professional; they also offer an Introduction to Autism course for families who have recently had a child diagnosed with autism.As the designated autism provider for South Staffordshire, Midlands Psychology have revitalised the support received by people with autism in the area.

Where families were previously waiting three years for introductory appointments, they now have to wait eight weeks at most. A range of services are available, including counselling and speech and language therapy, and can be chosen by families in a bespoke nature as they find what will help their children with autism best.

At the Autism Professionals Awards 2014, part of The National Autistic Society’s Professionals Conference held in March 2014 in Harrogate, Midlands Psychology won two awards for their work in family support and clinical excellence.

Angela Southall, the Director of Services at Midlands Psychology and also a clinical child psychologist, realises success has come from working hard to help those who need support.

Angela says: “The original specification of Midlands Psychology was to bring families together.

“Parent advisory groups help us to find out what children with autism need. Chances to attend the sessions are offered to everybody we work with. Parents always have open access to what is being worked on, until their child reaches 19-years-old.

“There is a want, though, to raise this to 25-years-old. There is a desire to create a pilot project to find out what we could do for adults living with autism. Relationships, employability, and independent living modules could be developed. A steering group could run a project on these issues.”

In clearing the three-year backlog for assistance, Angela says: “Clinics were run in public places to reduce the waiting list. Midlands Psychology managed to clear it in eight months.”

Quarterly evaluations are put together to track progress for children with autism in Midlands Psychology’s care. These are an indicator not only for Angela but also the CIC as a whole of how satisfactory the support offered is, as families involved have the largest say in the results. Since 2010, the average satisfaction rate has been 90%.

Improvements have been and still are at the heart of what Angela and her team seek to achieve.

She believes: “The awards gave us a huge boost. Our autism provider contract is up for renewal soon and the awards gave us confidence in what we do.”

Carol Povey, Director of The National Autistic Society’s Centre for Autism, praises Midlands Psychology saying: “Midlands Psychology should be commended for standing out from a truly exceptional shortlist.

“The finalists highlight some of the groundbreaking work going on across the UK to improve the lives of people affected by autism. It is important that we share their achievements so that other individuals and organisations can follow in their footsteps and ensure we live in a world where people with autism can reach their full potential.”